Talent is Cheaper Than Table Salt … Here’s Why.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
- Stephen King

We see this phenomenon play out, every day, in almost every profession.

But as many times as we’ll hear stories of successful entrepreneurs, movie stars and sports idols, for some reason we still tend to overvalue talent and undervalue hard work.

There’s no question in my mind that whatever success I’ve had building AdVenture Media has been attributed to persistent, hard work. Just putting in the hours and trying to succeed on an ongoing, uninterrupted basis.

In fact, I’m not exceedingly talented in any domain. I don’t have a great head for business, I’m certainly not an exemplary leader, I don’t have incredible interpersonal skills, and I’m far from brilliant.

I’m above average in a lot of areas, but I’m not uniquely talented in any.

So why do we put so much emphasis on talent?

When we see other successful people, we automatically think to ourselves, “Gosh, if I was only as talented as him or her, I’d be really successful.”

That’s a lie. You wouldn’t be.

Because they work a lot harder than you do.

One of the most compelling reasons we attribute others’ success to their talent is an interesting and pervasive psychological phenomenon called the fundamental attribution bias.

Essentially that means we tend to overemphasize dispositional (talent) factors in the success of others, and underemphasize situational factors (hard work).

Because we humans don’t like to give credit to someones own choices and effort, we chalk success up to innate talent, a lucky genetic lottery drawing, or any other of many reasons that deflect someone else’s success onto their dispositions, as opposed to their conscious decisions.

The reason we have this bias is quite simple. If we believe that the successful person is successful because they worked hard and made good choices (something we can also do), then we’re actually to blame for our lack of success.

When we realize that with hard work, we can do it too, there’s much less of an excuse for not doing it.

But if we can live in the universe where everyone’s success is attributed to their natural talents, which we of course don’t have, there’s good reason that we’re still stuck marinating in our own failures and botched opportunities.

So it’s important to realize two things:

One, talent, like Stephen King says, is indeed cheaper than table salt. Talent is commonplace and talent never got anyone anywhere.

Hard work wins, every single time.

And secondly, meditate on the fundamental attribution bias. Next time you see yourself admiring someone else’s success, stop for a moment or two and realize that their success was a result of the very same substance available to you.

Realize those things and begin working really hard every day.

Good things will happen.

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